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Debasish Banerjee: The man who flew his Aircraft from US to Ranchi and all for a promise

It was in 1983, when Dr Banerjee promised his mother, who was suffering from breast cancer that he will return to Ranchi one day in his own plane

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DrDebasish Banerjee Image Source: Indiatoday.in
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  • Banerjee travelled from the US to Ranchi only to keep his promise he made to his mother 33 years back
  • It took whopping Rs. 35 lakh, three years of struggle to work out the permissions for him to fly to Ranchi
  • Banerjee also flew his beloved Rebecca, his aircraft with an aim to spread awareness about diabetes

While every day we encounter people who are too used to break their promise, it is heart-warming to know someone who readily travels that extra mile and too literally, just to keep a promise, he made 33 years back.

The ride from the US to Ranchi wasn’t an easy one for Professor Debasish Banerjee.  He took off from Macon County airport in Franklin, North Carolina, on May 31 on his plane and reached Hyderabad on June 23, flying through Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, England, France, Italy, Greece, Jordan, UAE and Oman.

It was in 1983 when Dr Banerjee promised his mother, who was suffering from breast cancer that he will return to Ranchi one day in his own plane.

India Today quoted as Banerjee saying, “I had told my mother, one day I will return in my own aircraft and you will be proud of your son and here I am, in my hometown after 33 years.”

Dr Banerjee with a photo of his deceased mother. Image Source: ndtv.com
Dr Banerjee with a photo of his deceased mother. Image Source: ndtv.com

Though that was the last time he spoke to his mother, yet the promise he made was etched in his heart even after three long decades.

It took whopping Rs. 35 lakh, three years of struggle to work out the permissions and tonnes of exhaustion from navigating the single-engine aircraft through 14 counties to keep up the promise.

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Talking about the problems faced during the journey, Banerjee detailed that while flying through the UK, his aircraft experienced malfunctioning in the magnetos and vertical trim tab and also got its left wheel pant damaged.

The 65-year-old professor got his flying licence in 2005 and allowing him to spend the next few years undertaking smaller solo missions whenever time permitted.

Apart from the urge to keep his promise, Banerjee also flew his beloved Rebecca (as he calls his aircraft) with an aim to spread awareness about diabetes.

His aircraft – Cessna 182 – had the words ‘raising awareness of diabetes’ painted on the tail, throughout his long journey.

Talking about the problems faced during the journey, Banerjee detailed that while flying through the UK, his aircraft experienced malfunctioning in the magnetos and vertical trim tab and also got its left wheel pant damaged.

Banerjee at KC Roy Memorial Hospital in Ranchi said to India Today, “I felt that people can lead a better life by controlling their blood sugar and thus I decided to make them aware in whatever way I can,” quoted The Telegraph.

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He further said, “I am an adventurous person but this one is really a big challenge with my present aircraft,” and added that he had fitted an additional fuel tank for the journey across oceans.

After staying for three days in Ranchi, Banerjee flew to Calcutta on July 2, resuming his flight path back to the USA through Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and Japan.

Banerjee graduated from St Xavier’s College and later learnt flying after he shifted to the USA.

-This article is modified by Bulbul Sharma, a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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  • Aparna Gupta

    This shows that he is a truly Indian. Indian worship their mothers as God and he fulfilled the promise made to his mother.

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Immunotherapy Drugs Show Significant Improvement Against Breast Cancer: Study

Side effects need a close look, both doctors said. Nearly all study participants had typical chemo side effects such as nausea or low blood cell counts.

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Breast Cancer
This undated fluorescence-colored microscope image made available by the National Institutes of Health in September 2016 shows a culture of human breast cancer cells. For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown promise against breast cancer in a large study that combined it with chemotherapy to treat an aggressive form of the disease. VOA

For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown promise against breast cancer in a large study that combined it with chemotherapy to treat an aggressive form of the disease. But the benefit for most women was small, raising questions about whether the treatment is worth its high cost and side effects.

Results were discussed Saturday at a cancer conference in Munich and published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Drugs called checkpoint inhibitors have transformed treatment of many types of cancer by removing a chemical brake that keeps the immune system from killing tumor cells. Their discovery recently earned scientists a Nobel Prize. Until now, though, they haven’t proved valuable against breast cancer.

Breast Cancer
Weight loss may lower breast cancer risk for post-menopausal women. Pixabay

In the study

The new study tested one from Roche called Tecentriq plus chemo versus chemo alone in 902 women with advanced triple-negative breast cancer. About 15 percent of cases are this type, their growth is not fueled by the hormones estrogen or progesterone, or the gene that Herceptin targets, making them hard to treat.

Women in the study who received Tecentriq plus chemo went two months longer on average without their cancer worsening compared with those on chemo alone, a modest benefit. The combo did not significantly improve survival in an early look before long-term follow-up is complete.

Failed protein test

Previous studies found that immunotherapies work best in patients with high levels of a protein that the drugs target, and the plan for the breast cancer study called for analyzing how women fared according to that factor if Tecentriq improved survival overall.

breast cancer
FILE – A patient receives chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer at the Antoine-Lacassagne Cancer Center in Nice, July 26, 2012. VOA

The drug failed that test, but researchers still looked at protein-level results and saw encouraging signs. Women with high levels who received the combo treatment lived roughly 25 months on average versus about 15 months for women given chemo alone.

That’s a big difference, but it will take more time to see if there’s a reliable way to predict benefit, said Dr. Jennifer Litton of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She had no role in running the study but enrolled some patients in it and oversees 14 others testing immunotherapies.

“We’re really hopeful that we can identify a group of women who can get a much bigger and longer response,” she said.

Another breast cancer specialist with no role in the study, Dr. Michael Hassett at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, said he felt “cautious excitement” that immunotherapy may prove helpful for certain breast cancer patients.

Breast Cancer
Breast cancer cell, Wikimedia Commons

Side effects and cost

Side effects need a close look, both doctors said. Nearly all study participants had typical chemo side effects such as nausea or low blood cell counts, but serious ones were more common with the combo treatment and twice as many women on it stopped treatment for that reason.

Three of the six deaths from side effects in the combo group were blamed on the treatment itself; only one of three such deaths in the chemo group was.

Also Read: New DNA Tool To Predict People’s Height And Risk For Cancer

Cost is another concern. Tecentriq is $12,500 a month. The chemo in this study was Celgene’s Abraxane, which costs about $3,000 per dose plus doctor fees for the IV treatments. Older chemo drugs cost less but require patients to use a steroid to prevent allergic reactions that might interfere with the immunotherapy. Abraxane was chosen because it avoids the need for a steroid, said one study leader, Dr. Sylvia Adams of NYU Langone Health.

The study was sponsored by Roche and many study leaders consult or work for the company or own stock in it. (VOA)